Recollections and thoughts on this famous competition from across the whole spectrum of the game, from well-known commentators to unsung heroes.
Welcome to the first in this third series of EXCLUSIVE FA Cup Memories.
Every day, starting from 1st July, a new set of exclusive FA Cup Memories and thoughts will be provided via this FACupFactfile blog. And I couldn’t be more pleased to announce that Series 3 begins with the recollections of a two-time FA Cup Winner.
Connection to the world of Football: Twice FA Cup winner and twice League Champion with Liverpool, plus 73 caps with Republic of Ireland. Now a pundit for RTE Sport and talkSPORT.
First memory of the FA Cup: Ray says, “I recall watching the 1970 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Leeds United, a Final which nowadays would end up as a 5-aside match due to the strength of the challenges. Also Ricky George’s goal for Hereford still sticks in my mind.
As a family we would watch the whole build-up to the Cup Final. All of the Cup Finals in the early 70s are memorable – Charlie George lying on his back after scoring, Jim Montgomery’s excellent double save, Ian Porterfield’s winner, Alan Taylor’s double for West Ham – and after each one I would go outside straight after the match and pretend to be one of the players. I mainly identified with the technical players, the ones who knew where to be on the pitch, knew what pass to make, and seemed to have a picture of the game in their heads.
As a player my first ‘experience’ of a Cup Final was in 1980 when a member of West Ham’s reserves, and I accompanied the other reserve players to watch the first team at Wembley. I had been a team-mate of Paul Allen when first playing in the reserves and it was great to see him and the team win the Cup against the odds. I also remember Paul Brush, who had played in every round of the Cup that year. It must’ve been heart-breaking for him to be an unused substitute in the Final itself, something I was keen to avoid experiencing myself.
My first experience of actually playing in the FA Cup was for Fulham away at Oldham Athletic in the 3rd Round. It was my 21st birthday and I scored one of the goals in the 2-0 win. After the match we all celebrated in the coach back to London and upon returning home I then went to my favourite nightclub in Tottenham where I celebrated the special day in style.”
Favourite memory of the FA Cup: Ray Says, “My favourite memory is one that is also heavily tinged with sadness. It was the 1989 FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Everton with the tragic events at Hillsborough a month earlier still very raw in people’s hearts and minds. The Cup Final brought the city of Liverpool together with Reds and Blues joining in a very emotional singing of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
It was very hard to want to play in that Cup Final. After the semi-final most of us just wanted the season to end. But the Cup Final was seen to be an important event to help with people’s emotions and so it proved to be. It was a great day for the city of Liverpool.
It was my second FA Cup Final but the defeat against Wimbledon the year before kind of ruined my memory of that day. By the time I made my 3rd appearance in 1992 I was kind of blasé about it. I remember Graeme Sounness had been ill in the build-up to that Final and shouldn’t really have been at Wembley that day. We had a straightforward win against second division Sunderland.
I love the FA Cup and believe everyone should take it seriously. I get annoyed when people don’t. I treasure my FA Cup winners medals and would not like to see their worth diminished.”
Last FA Cup match attended: Ray says, “I still get a kick out of watching FA Cup games, and now as a co-commentator I get to see them from a different perspective. It’s difficult to remember which game was my last FA Cup match; West Brom versus Newcastle I think. I remember being hugely impressed with Newcastle that day.
I really enjoy co-commentating, something I fell into. You don’t get any feedback as to how you’ve performed, but I just believe in being honest in what I say when expressing opinions, and informing the audience of the reasons why something happened on the pitch.
Commentating is enjoyable, but it’s not the same as playing.”
Thoughts on the future of the FA Cup: Ray says, “I have a big concern about the impact of the Covid_19 pandemic on the next two or three seasons of the FA Cup. The Premier League is all-consuming with teams wanting to focus on that, although I do know that players still value the FA Cup. I admire Pep Guardiola for always playing a strong team in the Cup, but not all clubs choose to do that. Something’s got to give, I suppose.
The FA has a responsibility to do more to promote their competition. It provides smaller teams with a chance to shine on a national stage. The FA Cup is the only competition that provides such an opportunity.”
It has been a privilege to be able to recount Ray’s FA Cup memories. My sincerest thanks to him for being involved in this lockdown project.
Other FA Cup Memories in Series Three
Series 3 No. 2 – Andy Campbell (@NonLeagueCrowd on Twitter) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/02/fa-cup-memories-series-32-andy-campbell-nonleaguecrowd/
Series 3 No. 3 – Stewart Gardner (Commentator for Manchester United TV) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/fa-cup-memories-series-33-stewart-gardner/
Series 3 No. 4 – James Benge (Journalist covering London and Arsenal) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/fa-cup-memories-series-34-james-benge/
Series 3 No. 5 – Tom Hocking (Deputy Editor of ‘When Saturday Comes’ Magazine) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/05/fa-cup-memories-series-35-tom-hocking/
Series 3 No. 6 – Adam Oxley (Sports journalist at BBC Radio Sheffield) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/06/fa-cup-memories-series-36-adam-oxley/
Series 3 No. 7 – Matt Holland (Former Premier League footballer and now a member of the talkSport team) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/07/fa-cup-memories-series-37-matt-holland/
Series 3 No. 8 – Tom Besford (Founder of ‘For the Love of the Game’ blog) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/08/fa-cup-memories-series-38-tom-besford/
Series 3 No. 9 – Richard Worton (Match-day media officer at AFC Telford United) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/fa-cup-memories-series-39-richard-worton/
Series 3 No. 10 – Mihir Bose (Long-standing, award winning, multi-media journalist and multiple sports book author) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/10/fa-cup-memories-series-310-mihir-bose/
Series 3 No. 11 – Mike McCarthy (Sport broadcast journalist for BBC Radio Sheffield) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/11/fa-cup-memories-series-311-mike-mccarthy/
Series 3 No. 12 – Nick Judd (Swindon Town fan and producer of the FA Cup Final programme) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/12/fa-cup-memories-series-312-nick-judd/
Series 3 No. 13 – Chris Wathen (Collector of FA Cup Final programmes from 1948 to 2019) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/13/fa-cup-memories-series-313-chris-wathen/
Series 3 No. 14 – Ben Haines (Creative Director for 90min and host of N17Live for Tottenham Hotspur) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/fa-cup-memories-series-314-ben-haines/
Series 3 No. 15 – Justin Allen (Journalist and columnist for The Sun newspaper) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/fa-cup-memories-series-315-justin-allen/
Series 3 No. 16 – Stephen Howson (Podcast producer covering Manchester United) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/17/fa-cup-memories-series-316-stephen-howson/
Series 3 No. 17 – Dean Gripton (Researcher and EFL club data collector for Football Manager game) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/07/21/fa-cup-memories-series-317-dean-gripton/
Follow @FACupFactfile on Twitter for news of when the next exclusive FA Cup memories are published.